Exploring the Impact of a Digital Future

Over the last two years, we’ve seen technology progress at a rapid pace.

Adoption rates have skyrocketed and are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels. What are the risks and benefits of a technologically-driven society? More specifically, in an industry like real estate, where personal branding, human connections, trust, and networking are fundamental, what does the digitization of our economy mean for a REALTOR®’s business?                                                                                                

And, what can REALTORS® expect as technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the metaverse continue to gain traction?

On Episode 24 of REAL TIME, we’re joined by futurist Sinead Bovell to explore the impacts of engaging, transacting, and communicating through technology.

Bovell has spoken at the United Nations and has educated thousands of people on the future of technology—she also had a career as a model, but that’s a story for a different blog post.

Bovell, the founder of WAYE (which stands for Weekly Advice for Young Entrepreneurs), noticed early on there were gaps between the speed at which technology advances and people’s ability to adapt and use it. There are a number of factors driving these gaps, such as geography, age group, skill set and policies, she says.

“Even if you consider yourself somebody that is tech-savvy, you can pop around on social media, get your news online, there’s an additional gap of how the world of work and life is changing as a result of technology. How we live and exist today is going to look fundamentally different in five and ten and 15 years. There’s all of these different layers and tiers of gaps that I’m trying to tackle the close, but I think each of them, all of them are of critical importance,” she said.

The best thing to do is lean in to technology, Bovell says. “Leaning into how the world is changing, doing as much as we can to take initiative, things like Googling how my career is changing, or how this role is being impacted by advanced technologies.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many industries, including real estate, to press fast-forward on their adoption of technology.

“When we look at how it impacted our societal infrastructures and our world of work and life, we have accelerated into the future by at least a decade,” Bovell says. “Interestingly, we often fear that technology is outpacing us and our ability to keep up, which is true in some respects. But at the same time, a lot of us adapted quite quickly.”

Technology has already had a profound impact on real estate.

“If you were to rewind the clock only a few decades ago, the idea of listings being online was fundamentally unheard of and now that’s the first place we go to check the real estate market if we’re interested in buying or selling or even just browsing,” Bovell says. “So, that’s already been a massive change. As we look out into the future, technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, you may have heard terms like the metaverse – these are going to change how we access information, where we access information, and where consumers and prospective buyers and sellers expect the industry to be.”

When it comes to real estate and the metaverse, Bovell says digital twins could help homeowners know when they might expect to need repairs on their physical property.

“A manufacturing plant would say this dishwasher is going to break down in the real world. We’ve been modeling it on our simulations,” she explains. “So, the metaverse, I think there are elements that we can ignore, but there are elements that are very legitimate. They’ll of course depend on how the technology changes over time but that’s how I would think about it as a real estate agent.”

While you may see more listings or property twins appear in the metaverse, technology can’t replace everything. AI can’t give you subjective opinions based on human experiences.

Want to learn more about the metaverse, opportunities to invest in new technologies and the risk of relying on technology? Listen to the full episode of REAL TIME now.

Sarah Doktor brings her experience as a small-town journalist and national online editor to the Canadian Real Estate Association as a Communications Advisor. Sarah helps facilitate conversations between CREA and our members, boards, associations and the public via our online communities. She also helps coordinate the content presented to you here on the CREA Café. In her spare time, Sarah can be found at the gym, running on a trail or watching Netflix with her cat, Libby.


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